FC Bayern Munich
After a respectable performance in arguably the toughest of this season’s Turkish Airlines Euroleague Regular Season groups, FC Bayern Munich turns its attention to the Eurocup, where it will compete for the second time. Bayern will have many of the injured players that hurt its Euroleague chances back for the Last 32. Among them are forward Paul Zipser, swingman Bryce Taylor and playmaker Anton Gavel. So far the team has bene able to rely on the power of rebounding stud John Bryant inside and the scoring ability of forward Dusko Savanovic. Nihad Djedovic and Heiko Schaffartzik pack punch at both ends of the floor in the backcourt. With veteran coach Svetislav Pesic roaming the sidelines, Bayern will be a very difficult foe the rest of the way.
Brose Baskets Bamberg
With a new coach and only three players back from last season, the start of this season was going to be a test for Brose Baskets Bamberg and Coach Andrea Trinchieri. They passed this test with flying colors to rank second in Group A with a 6-4 record. Led by Brad Wanamaker and Trevor Mbakwe, who ranked second in assists and rebounds, respectively, in the regular season, Bamberg played team basketball and was a tough opponent on every night. In fact three of its four losses came by a single basket! Janis Strelnieks may have been the most-productive sixth man in the competition this season and teams with energetic big man Daniel Theis to lead a game-changing second unit that could help Bamberg go far.
Eurocup debutant JDA Dijon can be proud of its first foray into the competition. Dijon won four of its first five games en route to a 6-4 record and third place in Group B. Dijon specialized in close games, going 3-1 in games decided by 4 points or less. Point guard Erving Walker was Dijon’s leader in points and assists despite coming off the bench! Steven Gray and Andre Harris also averaged double digits in points for Coach Jean-Louis Borg. What Dijon made up for in stats – it has the lowest performance index rating of any Last 32 team – it more than made up for with tenacity and a 10-man rotation that kept fresh legs and aggressive spirits on the floor at all times. That strategy could take it places in this stage too.
Union Olimpija Ljubljana
A 4-1 start to the regular season paved the way for Union Olimpija Ljubljana to reach the Last 32 for the second year in a row. Olimpija wound up third in Group D with a 6-4 record. Coach Ales Pipan was able to turn to a bevy of options this season with nine players averaging at least 6 points per game. Sasu Salin and center Alen Omic were the main scoring weapons, while playmaker Marko Marinovic could be counted to feed the ball to the right people. Reasons are plenty to believe Olimpija will continue to improve; only two of its players were born before 1990! As the group of young talents continues to mature and come together, the sky is the limit for this squad.